How To Develop A Successful Inbound Marketing Plan For 2014
Welcome to our second Inbound Marketing blog! This article will give you a step-by-step planning guide to show you exactly how to set up and reap the rewards of an Inbound Marketing campaign for your business. As we previously discussed, inbound marketing is the response to the marketing challenges businesses experience and this guide should show you exactly how to combat those challenges and overcome your digital marketing dilemmas.
A traditional or outbound marketing plan requires you to present and promote your business to prospects. An inbound marketing plan allows your prospective audience to find you. The inbound marketing process typically begins with attracting your target audience, converting them into buying customers, and establishing strong customer relationships for repeat business.
Use the Executionists’s step-by-step process below to provide a clear roadmap for your business by developing an inbound marketing plan focused on achieving business goals by creating and igniting relevant, trust-building and shareable content.
One of the most common mistakes made with inbound marketing is blindly sharing content before you have identified your target persona. Without properly identifying your “ideal customer,” and knowing what their interests are or how they consume media, it’s almost impossible to create engaging blog posts. It’s said, “You Don’t Plan to Fail, You Fail to Plan.” Over time, a comprehensive inbound marketing plan will help to increase website visitors, convert that traffic to leads, and convert those leads to customers.
1. Analyze your current marketing efforts.
Before you can think about moving forward, you need to evaluate your current or past marketing efforts. How much traffic are you driving to your site? How much of that traffic converts to leads? How many customers found you through another referring site? A detailed analysis of your current marketing efforts is necessary in order to understand what needs to happen with your new marketing strategy. If you own a brand new business or have never attempted to market your business (either outbound or inbound), you can skip this step.
2. Identify your ideal customer.
Any true inbound marketing campaign starts with knowing who your target audience is. Who are you trying to sell to? How does your target customer differ from other customers? Identifying your potential markets will help you determine exactly what you need to do to sell to them. By having these buyer personas, you won’t waste precious time and money on unqualified leads. Beginning every campaign with a strong understanding of your audience will ensure your that your brand will resonate with these prospects and lead them to take action to buy, use, and promote your products and services. Here’s a few questions to start with when determining your ideal customer:
- What’s their most pressing problem, issue or desire, want or need?
- Where do they typically get their information from?
- What benefit or aspect of your product or service would solve their problem?
- Who does your ideal customer trust?
- Have you built relationships or established any partnerships with other trusted brands or known publications in your industry?
3. Design and deploy a website designed for conversion.
Websites should be developed with inbound marketing in mind. Naturally the sites’ design must support your brand but it must also guide your prospects to the content you wish to share with them. Remember, attention spans run short so site speed and page loading times are critical considerations as well. For efficient inbound marketing, you’ll want to ensure your site contains: calls-to-action (CTA) and various landing pages.
“Any page on a website where traffic is sent specifically to prompt a certain action or result.”
A ‘call-to-action’ tells the prospect exactly what you want him/her to do while he/she is on your landing page.
The CTA and landing pages are your website’s checkout lane and cash register, respectively. Website visitors who convert do so by “paying” with their names, email addresses and/or other information as requested by the landing page. Without a CTA, your website visitors will struggle to find your landing pages and without landing page conversions, an inbound marketing campaign will struggle to show a return. For more information about preparing your website for inbound communication stay tuned for our next blog post in this series!
4. Set your desired action.
Once you have analyzed your past marketing efforts, identified your ideal audience and set your website up for conversion success, you will need to define what can you offer to your target audience. Remember, what you are offering has to be of equal or greater value for the information you are asking your leads to provide. Depending on your business goals, this could include making a purchase, subscribing to an email list on your website, a free white paper or case study download in exchange for an email address, sharing your marketing content on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ or Pinterest to generate word-of-mouth interest or a combination of a few offers.
5. Create remarkable content.
Inbound marketing is really just another fancy name for “content marketing” and content is precisely what you need to generate those inbound leads. Without question, one of the most effective way to generate remarkable content for your website is to use a blogging platform.
In order to determine which content will resonate best with your target audience, it is important to first define and set the type of content you will create. Does your target audience respond better to videos, blog articles, podcasts, white papers or webinars? Regardless of the medium that you use to provide your content it’s important that you publish consistently and frequently to insure success.
6. Drive traffic.
Having a website is useless if you cannot be found by your target audience. In order for your content to really reach your audience you will have to share your content. Don’t be the tree falling in the woods and not making a sound – you want your tree to fall in the woods and make an everlasting sound!
Social media is one of the simplest and most effective inbound marketing tactics to share your content and products. RSS feeds, social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube and blogging can all be considered a part of “social media.” The most valuable aspect of social media is conversation – you will NOT build a following by just sending out messages and never responding – make your social networks a platform for communication. The easier it is for people to share your content by adding share “buttons” or link to your content will improve the traffic your site and encourage visitors to recommend your services to others.
Another great way to share your valuable content is to submit your blog posts to sites like: StumbleUpon, Digg, Reddit, Slashdot, and Newsvine. All you have to do is make an account and start submitting your work. It is suggested that you engage in these communities, follow other people, try and get followers, and submit work other than your own. Many of these sites monitor your account and want to see that you’re not just submitting your own work to the community.
7. Lead generation and lead nurturing.
According to Hubspot, a “lead” is a person who has indicated interest in your company’s product or service. In the buying process, a typical lead would move through three stages: Top of the Funnel or the ‘Informational Stage’ where users are simply looking for general information, the Middle of the Funnel or the ‘Evaluation Stage’ where a user has identified that they in-fact do have a problem and are now attempting to solve it, and finally the Bottom of the Funnel or the ‘Consideration Stage’ where a user knows they have a problem and knows how to solve it. At the bottom of the funnel, users may contact your business for a demo, free trial or consultation.
Lead generation usually occurs after you’ve attracted an audience and are ready to actually convert those visitors into leads for your sales team. You can effectively educate and move users down the funnel with lead nurturing.
Lead nurturing is typically accomplished with emails or a series of communications to help educate the user with additional relevant information. It offers the user the chance to convert on the next funnel offer.
8. Measure your inbound marketing conversion rate.
There are hundreds of possible inbound marketing metrics to measure and keep track of. There’s everything from SEO rankings, inbound links, articles published, content downloads, reach, comments, retweets, ‘Likes,’ shares, clicks, traffic, leads… and much more. Measuring your inbound marketing efforts on a consistent basis will help you produce questions about your strategy – and ultimately whether inbound marketing is having any impact on the financial metrics that your company cares about.
Here are five valuable metrics to measure and demonstrate inbound marketing success:
- Measure growth in organic website traffic, leads, and opportunities every 30 days (i.e. This includes social referral, organic search traffic and any other unpaid promotion).
- Gauge social engagement, not just reach (i.e. Just because someone follows you on a social network doesn’t mean they are engaging with your brand – measure the total number of posts to your Page Wall, likes, comments, or shares on your posts; answers to questions, etc. – useful tools to measure engagement include: Facebook insights and Feedburner.)
- Track lead generation by content asset and source. (i.e. What sources are driving the most traffic? What kinds of content drive the most leads? The most revenue?)
- Keep track of the “original source” of your leads – not the source of the visit that caused them to convert, but the source that caused them to first become aware of you.
- Forecast conversions and estimate growth After a few months of monitoring the trends of your inbound lead generation, you can start making forecasts about how much inbound contributions will make to future pipeline conversions.
Need help developing a powerful 12-month inbound marketing plan that’s fully tailored to your company, and aligned with your business goals? Contact Executionists for a free consultation.
This is part one of twelve in a series on effective Inbound Marketing for your business. Be sure to check out the continuation of this series next Monday for more helpful inbound marketing tips and tricks – 5 Actionable Steps to Prepare Your Website for Inbound Communication.